By Christy Hammond
The Detroit Red Wings (34-11-7) extended their winning streak to three games, punctuating the end of a three-game homestand with an impressive 8-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers (26-23-3). The Wings posted three goals in the first 5:44 of action and padded their first period lead with two more tallies. The five goals in the first period marked the first time that Detroit had grabbed a 5-0 lead after the first since April 8, 1993, against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Expo Hall.
Defenseman Brian Rafalski got the Wings on the board early just 1:47 into the initial frame. Rafalski assumed his position atop the right faceoff circle during Detroit’s first power play of the game. His slap shot beat Edmonton goaltender Dwayne Roloson on the Wings’ fourth shot of the game, which appeared to open the floodgates because Detroit added another goal only 1:31 later.
Earning his fifth goal of the season, Brett Lebda tapped in a well-timed pass from Kris Draper just outside the crease getting the puck just over Roloson’s leg that had kicked out. Draper had brought the puck up along the right side of the ice before dishing the puck to Lebda from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.
Niklas Kronwall registered his first assist of the afternoon and his 100th career point when he blasted a shot from the high slot. As Dan Cleary rushed towards the net, Kronner’s shot deflected off of Cleary’s foot and into the net. Pavel Datsyuk also earned an assist on the goal.
With his second power-play point of the matinee, Marian Hossa redirected another Kronwall shot from the point with the blade of his stick. Jiri Hudler set the play up as he kept the puck in the Edmonton zone, went around an Oiler, before sliding a pass to Hossa in the slot. No. 81 sent the puck back up to Kronner at the point where he then took his shot.
Henrik Zetterberg stripped the puck from an Oiler at center ice and then raced towards the Edmonton net along the left side of the ice. Datsyuk quickly caught up and centered himself in the Oilers’ zone. When Hank reached the lower left side of the faceoff circle, he released a perfect pass that banked off of Datsyuk for his 20th marker of the season at 18:02.
The Oilers pulled Roloson during the first intermission and inserted Jeff Deslauriers in net to start the second. Deslauriers faced 19 shots during his stint in net including 10 in the second stanza. Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom registered the only goal of the middle frame at 19:53. With just over seven seconds remaining, Nik Jr. (Kronwall) sent a bouncing pass to Lidstrom who held on to it for a second before releasing a rocket from just above the left faceoff circle. With three assists in the victory, Kronwall became the tenth Wing to earn at least 30 points this season.
Edmonton snagged three straight goals in the first 11:41 of the third period giving some cause for concern from the Detroit faithful, who saw the Wings 6-0 lead slipping to a 6-3 contest. Mikael Samuelsson erased the worries at 15:29 when he intercepted the puck near center ice and brought it up on a breakaway, moved the puck to his backhand, and lifted the puck over an outstretched Deslauriers for an unassisted goal and his 14th marker of the year.
Ty Conklin stopped 23 shots in the effort including a great breakaway save on Kyle Brodziak in the middle of the third. Conklin advanced to 9-1 at the Joe and moved into a tie with Chris Osgood for 17 wins this year.
The Wings head to Pittsburgh tonight to take on the Penguins at Mellon Arena in the NHL Game of the Week on NBC at 12:30 p.m. If you use Twitter and tweet about the game using the hashtag #NHLonNBC, you will be entered to win a prize! Be sure to check out the Red Wings’ official Twitter account and yesterday’s post explaining the contest for more information.